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Hospital visitor restrictions prompt push to help more families connect
CALGARY -- Resident doctors at Foothills Hospital are raising money to help patients connect with loved ones despite restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The internal medicine resident charity committee launched a fundraiser to buy tablets so in-patients can keep in contact with their families through video chat.
“When the COVID pandemic hit and patients were no longer allowed to have visits in hospital we saw the toll it was taking on them,” said Dr. Alex Frolkis.
The group of resident doctors is raising money to help expand a Calgary Health Trust initiative. Currently there are 130 tablets available at Calgary’s four main hospitals and some Carewest facilities. The program also involves volunteers who help facilitate the patients’ video chats.
Veronica Heinen supports the initiative.
Her mother, 84-year-old Elizabeth, was admitted to Foothills Hospital March 26 due to breathing complications connected to her scoliosis.
“I said, love you mom I’ll see you soon, and the paramedics said ‘no visitors,” Heinen explained.
“We were like, what?! There’re no way we’re letting mom go to the hospital by herself.”
Even though her mother didn’t have COVID-19, the restrictions in the hospital meant to prevent the spread of the virus meant the hospital was not allowing visitors. Heinen’s mother was alone when she passed away the next day.
“It was really sad that we couldn’t be there,” said Heinen.
Since then, Alberta updated its visitors policy. As of May 26, one visitor at a time is allowed to see patients in end-of-life situations. Two visitors may be allowed at once if the hospital room is big enough to physically distance.
Still, many families are not able to share intimate moments.
The resident doctors hope to help provide some relief by allowing for more virtual connections.
“I think often amidst the pandemic people are so focussed on the medicine that they forget about the healing,” said Dr. Zoe Polsky.
The group is selling tickets through a cash-draw online but have almost sold out — so they are also accepting donations.